MIDTOWN — A woman claiming to be a psychic swindled a Columbia student out of $2,500 to "cleanse negative energy" from her life, authorities said.
Babygirl Stevens, 37, who also goes by Psychic Paula and Virginia Mitchell, approached the 23-year-old, who was picking up shoes from a shop inside the Plaza Hotel, on April 1, claiming the victim had "negativity" around her and that she'd need to cleanse her body and soul with her help, the criminal complaint said.
On April 7, the victim went to Stevens's home on East 58th Street and paid her $300 for a fortune telling, authorities said. Stevens then told the victim to come back two days later with a bag containing $2,200, 22 pennies, 22 red rose petals, salt, crystal and an item of clothing so that she could rid her of the negativity by burying it all, according the complaint and Bob Nygaard, a private investigator the victim hired to track Stevens down.
The victim forked over the additional cash, but after realizing she'd been scammed, she reported Stevens to police and hired the private investigator to assist in the probe.
Stevens was arrested on June 10 and arraigned on fortune telling and grand larceny. The judge set her bail at $2,500 cash or bond. She paid bail on Sunday and is due back in court on Aug. 1.
Her attorney, Stephen Cooper, said that Stevens maintains her innocence.
"My client informed me that she does not know who the alleged victim was and had no knowledge of the specific acts that the criminal court complaint described," he said. "She has plead not guilty and will vigorously defend herself against any untrue claims."